Rocketplane Global Out of Bankruptcy, Seeks Funding for Space Plane

The Rocketplane has been revived.

Rocketplane Global, which went under two years ago, is out of bankruptcy and searching for about $100 million in investment to build its six-passenger suborbital space vehicle.

Speaking at the Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Palo Alto, Calif., Vice President of Business Development Chuck Lauer said the firm came out of bankruptcy last  year under a new Wisconsin-based holding company called Space Assets, LLC. Original backer George French is involved in the new venture.

Space Assets was the winning bidder in an auction in December for the assets of Rocketplane’s Kistler parent company, Lauer said. Those assets included Rocketplane Global’s trademark and intellectual property.

The plan is to raise funds to build the space vehicle and to fly it out of Europe and Asia on wet lease arrangements, Lauer said. A subsidiary, SpaceLinq N.V., has been established in The Netherlands to handle European operations. The vehicle would fly out of spaceports in Holland and Barcelona, Spain. A Spacelinq company also will be set up in Asi. 

Lauer said that the investment climate in the United States remains poor, so the company is seeking investment overseas.

Space Assets has a plan to launch suborbital payloads using modified F-104 fighters from Florida in order to bring in revenue. He said that service should be made operational in about two years.

Rocketplane Global declared bankruptcy in 2010 after spending about $25 million to develop the business-jet sized space plane. The company was awarded $17 million in tax credits from the state of Oklahoma for operating at the Burns Flat spaceport.

  • the Rocketplane design was a good idea, since it could be (just a bit) safer than the Lynx and the SS2 that will (both) have nearly ZERO safety systems!

  • rocketpod

    G.M. please stop trolling… For now, X-Cor and Scaled Composites have a more proven track for safety than Rocketplane. These 2 companies have flying hardware (SpaceShip One/WK1, WK2 and SS2 for Scaled and 2 rocket planes for X-Cor). Rocketplane never flew anything, and there was not any noticeable progress for years before the bankrupcy, with the modified Learjet they intended to use.

  • Not to rundown Rocketplane, but there was a lot of eye rolling here about the company’s return. No shortage of skepticism in the biz about whether Rocketplane will be able to execute on its plan this time around any better than last time. We’ll see.

    It would be the most direct competitor to Virgin Galactic for passengers, although without the global brand awareness and marketing heft. They might be able to compete on price.

    A Rocketplane vehicle would also seek a part of the microgravity experiment market. The one thing I’m realizing is that the supply of suborbital vehicles is threatening to outstrip the market demand for experiments. NASA is helping by funding experiments for flights, but the agency has only so much money available for that. There could be a glut of providers and it would take a while for the payload demand to catch up.

  • Leslie

    I agree, the Rocketplane is a good idea. As we have yet to successfully build and launch an Earth-based SSTO vehicle, I applaud the company for taking on such an endeavor. Building upon an already successful idea (such as muti-stage technology) might be seen as a safe bet for some, but others see this as a barrier to advancing technology. Imagine how life would be, if the Wright Brothers never decided to take such a risky venture. Advancements take courage, risk and creativity.

    I can’t say that the Rocketplane will or will not work. I can say for certain that they are one step ahead of the game because they are attempting to accomplish, what others have predetermined to be impossible.

    A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
    Albert Einstein

  • Leslie, they’re not building an SSTO. They’re trying to compete with Virgin Galactic and XCOR.

    Also, SSTO is not possible with current technology for payloads much greater than a few kg, maybe a few dozen kg’s but that’s it.

    If you’re looking for SSTO’s, see Skylon.

  • An Okie Who Knows About RP

    If George French is involved it is doomed for failure again. He didn’t have a clue then and still doesn’t on how to run this program or the company. Until he leaves I would recommend that the Europeans run as fast as they can away from this.

    Technically, the program was viable. Unfortunately, most of the people who actually contributed technically to Rocketplane have left the company, so it would be very difficult to continue.

  • littlehead

    Totally admire that guy’s enthusiasm and commitment.